iceberg

Our Approach

Mitigating and adapting to climate change is the largest, most pressing challenge currently facing our global community. Given our interest in interdisciplinary problem solving, we view this challenge as an opportunity to inform new policies and guide investment in tools and technologies that can help us build more sustainable, just, resilient, and healthier communities. 

person in desert

How can we reduce the inequitable consequences of climate change?

Problem

Existing climate policies and market solutions do not necessarily offer fair or equal protection for all communities

While it is impossible to forecast climate change impacts with exact certainty, we fully expect that damages will be unevenly distributed, meaning some communities will fare better as a result of climate change, while others will be worse off. And like climate change damages, the equity consequences of climate policies may also affect disadvantaged communities disproportionately. These concerns are incredibly important-- such communities may not have sufficient resources to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Thus, we need to design policies that ensure all communities, especially the most vulnerable, have the resources and protections they need to stay resilient in the face of a changing climate. 

Solution

Make equity central to the global climate policy debate

From our research on food security to market-based climate policies, emLab makes equity a key consideration in all the work we do. For every climate impact and policy analysis we conduct and for each tool and market solution we develop, we think carefully about distributional effects to ensure our work produces equal benefits and offers equal protections for all communities, no matter their underlying social, political, or economic circumstances. 

solar panels

How can we accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy?

Problem

New policies and incentives are needed to drive long-term decarbonization

For more than a century, global economic development has been primarily powered by fossil fuel inputs--energy resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas that emit potent greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and significantly enhance its ability to trap heat. Shifting away from this antiquated and unsustainable energy system requires transitioning to low-carbon energy sources, such as solar and wind energy. The necessary antecedents for such large-scale decarbonization are new energy policies that can facilitate a smooth and swift transition to clean economic growth. 

Solution

Create new climate policies that support rapid growth in the clean energy sector

The Climate Group at emLab is studying decarbonization efforts by assessing the viability of scaling low-carbon energy pathways. We have found that transitioning to a low-carbon future can be possible and sustained in the long-term if effective policies are put in place in the near-term that drive rapid and significant growth in the clean energy sector. 

stocks

How do we design effective climate change policy solutions?

Problem

The uncertain and unprecedented nature of future climate change impacts can be a barrier to policy making

Though there are no historical precedents to anthropogenic climate change, we would still like to be able to use actual data and evidence to shed light on what a future under anthropogenic climate change looks like. Is it possible to use data and evidence on something with no historical precedent to inform policy making?

Solution

Leverage new tools from data science and economics to better forecast the consequences of climate change policies

At emLab, we are developing cutting-edge tools that use recent advances in data science and economic modeling to better forecast the impacts of climate change and the consequences of climate policy. For example, we are using novel sources of information from prediction and stock markets to forecast the cost of cap-and-trade climate policy, as well as historical, naturally-occurring global climate events to forecast the impacts of future anthropogenic climate change.

fire

How adaptable are humans to changing climate conditions?

Problem

Humankind’s capacity to adapt to extreme climate conditions is uncertain

Though climate change is now considered one of the greatest threats to human health, we still know relatively little about the potential for humans to adapt and stay resilient under new, often more extreme, climate conditions. This information gap makes it difficult to reliably estimate the costs of climate change and implement innovative adaptation solutions.

Solution

Quantify human adaptability and identify technological solutions for resilience

The Climate Group at emLab is analyzing the global effects of extreme temperatures on human health to better understand our capacity to adapt to and remain resilient in the face of new and challenging climate conditions. By quantifying the importance of adaptation, we can inform future decision-making about and private and public investment opportunities in the most promising sustainable technologies for supporting human adaptation to climate change.